11 Things to Know Before Moving to Richmond VA

Living in Richmond 

Moving to Richmond, VA? We have you covered with everything you need to know about living in Richmond, Virginia!

Richmond, the capital of Virginia is among America’s oldest major cities. It’s also a city with eclectic culture and a lot of history. In fact, there are 300+ historical markers across the city. Walking through Richmond, you’ll see murals covering the walls of local restaurants and shops and cobblestones covering the streets downtown.

Art museums in Richmond have drawn national attention and if you’re a foodie - you’ll love living in Richmond. National Geographic put Richmond on their list of the World’s Top 10 places to travel for food. Richmond also made our list of the 5 Best Places to Live in Virginia.

Moving to Richmond, VA - What is it like living in Richmond, Virginia?

Richmond is at the fall line of the James River, 44 miles west of Williamsburg, 66 miles east of Charlottesville, and 92 miles south of Washington, D.C. With about 213,735 residents, Richmond is the fourth-most populous metro in the state. The city’s economy is mostly driven by law, finance, and government with local government agencies and well-known legal and banking firms in the downtown area. It’s also home to one of 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals and one of 12 Federal Reserve Banks. At least eight Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the city including Dominion Energy and WestRock. 

There are a lot of things you should know before moving to Richmond which is why we’ve created this guide with everything you should know before making the move - the good, and the bad. Read on to learn more about the 11 things you should know BEFORE moving to Richmond, Virginia. 

1. Richmond Cost of Living

Richmond is an affordable city. Recent population growth in Richmond has been driven by its affordability. The cost of living in Richmond is about the same as the U.S average and 6% lower than the state of Virginia’s average. The median home value is about $193,700 and rental prices average $896. You can live in Richmond comfortably without breaking the bank. Whether you are renting or buying, you can find affordable housing in the Richmond metro area but you’ll pay a bit more to live in the trendier areas, like downtown.

If you’re planning to buy a home, and don’t mind the extra work, there are tons of awesome, older properties in Richmond that need a little TLC. Real estate taxes are a little higher in the city than in the surrounding counties so keep that in mind when buying. However, you do get street lights, sidewalks, and better access to transportation in the city.

2. Richmond Has a Rich Craft Brewery Scene 

Brewery-hopping is a popular activity on the weekends for all Richmonders alike because the craft brewery scene in Richmond is amazing - seriously. If you want to experience all that the city’s breweries have to offer, take a trip to the Richmond Beer Trail which features at least 30 of them. Some of my favorites include The Veil Brewing Co, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, and Three Notch-d.

If you’re a fan of the reality TV show, “The Bachelorette,” you may have noticed the trip Becca Kufrin took to Richmond to explore the beer scene during her season on a few of her dates. The group took a few sips at The Veil Brewery Co. The Starr Hill Beer Hall & Rooftop offers a multiple-story beer experience. The first floor features over 4,500 square feet for the brewery and bar with an additional deck outside. Then on the rooftop, the 3,000 square foot bar and beer garden are amazing if you want to sip outside and see views of the Richmond skyline. If you prefer hard ciders over beer, there are options for that too. You can try different types at Blue Bee Cider. Fun fact… Richmond is also the first city where beer cans were sold.

Richmond VA historic buildings with flowers in the foreground

3. One of the Most Historic Places in the U.S.

Richmond was first incorporated as part of the original British colonies so the city has extensive ties to our American history. You can see that just by walking or driving through the city with its 300+ historical landmarks. You should take a tour of the Old Senate Chambers at the Virginia State Capitol, the oldest legislative body in the U.S. Visiting the American Civil War Museum is also a must. As the Capital of the Confederacy, Richmond has a hard time letting that go. It has famous Confederate Generals lining the city’s roadways but recently, some of those statues have been taken down.

Make sure you take the time to check out the Richmond Slave Trail. It’s self-guided but you can get a guide if you’d like. The walking trail details the journey of former Africans brought to Virginia. You could take a stroll through the Edgar Allen Poe Museum, which honors the famous author who actually grew up in Richmond! The opportunities to discover history in Richmond are endless.

4. It Has a Funky, Hipster Vibe 

Richmond is a hipster’s heaven. If you walk through the city, you’ll know what I mean. Richmond welcomes the hipster vibe and many like to hang around Carytown or paint murals at the Selba Art Project. Carytown screams free-thinking with a nine-block row of quirky shops and restaurants. Tattoos and beards can also be spotted as often as murals on the city’s walls.

The hipster scene spreads much further than Carytown. In Scott’s Addition, you can check out vintage furniture and clothing at Diversity Thrift or get a Gingersnap Iced Tea from Lamplighter Coffee Roasters.

Home in Richmond from the colonial times with immense history

5. There is Plenty to do Outdoors 

One of the best features of Richmond is the James River which flows through the city. It’s absolutely gorgeous with trails that run around the river and bridges that run across it. The James River is a great place to go canoeing, kayaking, fishing, cycling, jogging, or rock climbing. Belle Aisle is another favorite by the river. You can sit on the rocks and watch the water or take a picnic! Every summer, millennials and college students like to go tubing down the James River, often with beers in hand. You can view beautiful lakes and historic sites on a bike ride along the Virginia Capital Trail which has 52 miles of trails. Make sure you bring your mountain bike!

The city’s parks have very well-maintained bike trails for mountain biking. Bird Park and Floodwall park are also popular spots for outdoor leisure. About one Saturday every month from April to September, the town shuts down because of a running race. People in Richmond love their races. 

6. An Art-lovers Dream

The arts in Richmond are part of the city’s personality. Just walk through the streets and admire all of the beautiful works of art, many of them plastered on city walls. With help from the Richmond Mural Project, some of the country’s top street artists have come to Richmond to make their mark with unique creations.

Visiting the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is also a must with some of the finest collections of Art Nouveau and South Asian art in the world. It’s free and open all year long. The museum also has a happy hour on Fridays. It’s a great place to meet people and enjoy some drinks after work. In May, Arts in the Park is a two-day festival where you can see or buy original works by special artists. Plus, the monthly First Friday Art Walk event turns Broad Street into an art galore with pieces from Virginia Commonwealth University and other small touring galleries.

Richmond, Virginia has all four seasons as you can see from this photo of historic real estate where leaves have begun to fall

7. Experience All Four Seasons Here

Richmond is far enough South that you will feel the heat of the Summer but also far enough North that you could see a foot of snow in the Winter. The summertime is hot and humid with temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s. July is the hottest month with an average high temperature of 89.7 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it one of the hottest places in Virginia. Fall and Spring are nice with some rainfall and temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

The city gets about 44 inches of rain per year, on average. That’s compared to the U.S. average of 38 inches of rain per year. Richmond residents also experience Winter, but not anything too crazy. On average, the city gets about 11 inches of snow. The most pleasant months in Richmond are May, September, and October and the least pleasant are January and February. It’s definitely a place where you will see all four seasons. 

8. Perfect for Foodies 

Richmond has some of the best chefs and restaurants in the nation and the competition is fierce. The city literally has FOUR different local donut options just because of that. The city is also known for brunching. Every Sunday, if you aren’t brunching then who are you? Just make sure to get reservations.

Try creative takes on breakfast at The Fancy Biscuit. Millie’s Diner and LUNCH.SUPPER! Is a must-try. Yes, it’s actually called that. It’s two restaurants next to each other that serve brunch, lunch, and dinner and it is delicious. Part of Richmond’s foodie charm is due to a 10% meals tax which resulted in many chain restaurants leaving the city. That means cute diners and amazing small-business restaurants moved in and took over among the neighborhoods. You can find a lot of funky options too like GWARbar, which offers gourmet junk food. If you love food you will love living in Richmond,.

Richmond VA city lights from the pier at night time

9. Crime is Not One of its Strong Suits

With a crime rate of 43 per one thousand residents, Richmond has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes. Your chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 23. It definitely depends on where you live. You may want to invest in a home security system if you live in the downtown area of Richmond. It's important to understand that Richmond is a capital city and if you want to live in a downtown city area the crime rate is going to be higher. There are certainly more dangerous places to live than this city. 

10. Variety of Nightlife Options 

If you’re looking for a fun night out, the excitement doesn’t stop in Richmond when the sun goes down. There are plenty of places to go out like Kabana Rooftop if you’re looking to dance or Southern Railway Taphouse downtown which is a huge indoor-outdoor spot. Godfrey’s is a popular spot for club-goers who like a good mix from a DJ. You can also see plenty of live music in Richmond. Check out who’s playing at the National, a historic theater that has turned into a concert hall. There are also plenty of casual spots like the Smooth Operator, Heritage, and Saison, a speakeasy-style place. A great reason for people to relocate to Richmond!

11. Options for Sports-Lovers

Richmond is home to several sports teams with lots of options, depending on what you like to watch. If you like soccer, it has the Richmond Kickers, which is part of USL. If baseball is your thing, it has the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the AA Affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Going to a Squirrels game is always a good time at the Diamond. The kids can get a hug from the mascots, Nutzy and Nutasha, and can run the bases after weekend games. RVA is also home to the Washington Redskins Training Camp. Skins fans always come to watch them practice and get excited for a new season of NFL Football. If college basketball is your thing, check out the VCU Rams and Richmond Spiders during March Madness.

Final Thoughts on Richmond

Richmond is a great place to be and a unique spot for anyone to live. As someone who moved to Richmond myself for a few years, I wanted to share some of my favorite things about living in this great city. It’s the perfect place if you want something a little less crowded and maybe a little cheaper. I think it also offers a lot of great options for buyers moving from more expensive places. Richmond is truly brimming with fun and is a vibrant, creative city. It’s also home to several universities like Virginia Commonwealth University and The University of Richmond.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading about the 11 Things to Know Before Moving to Richmond. If you’re considering a move to Richmond, our team of top local Real Estate Agents would love to help you. Just contact us to help with your relocation or with any questions you might have.

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.